For decades, the South American metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has clocked in as staggeringly lethal. Its violence-scarred and blood-strewn ghettos (or "favelas") are regularly patrolled by crazed drug gangs whose open-fire battles with police often spread out onto the main thoroughfares and turn ordinary civilians into casualties. In response, the Brazilian government formed a crack paramilitary force known as the BOPE (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais, or Special Police Operations Battalion) to take matters into its own hands. Now, director José Padilha's social-consciousness drama Tropa de Elite carries viewers inside of BOPE for a scathing indictment of the cycle of violence that permeates Brazilian society, scripted by 12-year-plus BOPE veteran Rodrigo Pimentel. Wagner Moura (Hector Babenco's Carandiru) stars as Captain Nascimento, the leader of a BOPE unit who is seriously considering retirement in the face of his impending fatherhood. In an effort to pick his successor, he looks to two younger recruits, part-time law student André Matias (André Ramiro) and the bellicose hood Neto (Caio Junqueira) -- but soon recognizes that these naïve men will need to seriously mature before one can take the reins. Inevitably, the events that each encounters on the roughshod Brazilian streets -- particularly a trip to clean up some of the neighborhoods in anticipation of the pope's visit -- begin to shape and redefine them in ways that neither can even begin to anticipate. Meanwhile, BOPE grapples with its own internal problems -- particularly the extreme corruption and underhandedness of each squad leader, whose sideline activities range from resupplying weapons to gangs to the racketeering of strip clubs.
by Nathan Southern synopsis